Let's control handguns on New Year's Eve
I have lived in the Harwood/Charles Village area for six years and have witnessed an annual practice on New Year's Eve that I didn't see when I lived outside the city.
This practice is done by crowds of people who openly display handguns and fire shots into the air to celebrate the holiday. This occurs on street corners from shortly before midnight until several hours into the morning. To the novice, these pops and bangs may sound like fireworks, until you realize some of the sounds are bullets ricocheting off buildings and the street.
At community meetings I've attended, residents said they saw no response by police when calls were made, and I've heard police officers claim that they didn't know about this practice. However, last winter after New Year I read in The Sun letters from other city residents fearful of this practice in their neighborhoods. The police should attempt to curb this form of celebrating as it is dangerous and unlawful.
Colleges don't need more bureaucracy
When Baltimore County decided to establish community colleges it was necessary to receive start-up approval from the Maryland State Board of Education.
In my position on the staff of the Maryland Department of Education it was my responsibility to meet with the staff of then-superintendent of schools in Baltimore County, Guy Stapleton, to discuss procedures.
Two locations were proposed, Catonsville and Essex. Each college was to be administered by its own president, without having to go through an administrator in the central office. This procedure was consistent with usual college practice in the area covered by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
During the early years of the community college movement in Maryland I lived in Catonsville. Consequently I was able to sense the sentiment for these colleges in the county. After I retired I watched the community colleges of Maryland achieve tremendous growth and a reputation for high academic achievement.
After all these years of successful operation it was a surprise to me to learn that a chancellor had been employed and that he had engaged additional staff for his office, thus creating a layer of bureaucracy above the presidents.
Having each president responsible to the Board of Trustees was a formula established throughout the state's community colleges. This won for them not only state accreditation but also accreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
In my opinion, a layer of administrators between the president and the board is both cumbersome and unnecessarily expensive.
H. David Reese
No-fault insurance helps auto victims
We share The Sun's disappointment (editorial, Dec. 23) with Gov. Parris Glendening's refusal to stand up to his trial lawyer campaign contributors by pushing no-fault automobile insurance reform.
We concur that significant auto insurance premium reductions can only be realized when the General Assembly has the courage to stand up to the trial lawyers and their campaign dollars and enact no-fault.
Hopefully, with a coalition of business and consumer groups behind it, no-fault legislation introduced in the 1997 legislative session will receive the active support of the House speaker and the members of the House Economic Matters Committee.
Premium savings generated by no-fault insurance could increase the percentage of household income available to citizens for basic needs and remove a pernicious disincentive of our tort law system, which often compels low-to-moderate-income drivers to accept low settlements out of their need for immediate cash rewards.
No-fault insurance would ensure that a greater percentage of premium dollars is spent on compensating accident victims, with a lesser percentage going to attorney's fees and court costs. Reducing unnecessary attorney involvement could save Maryland motorists an estimated $800 million and provide real reform of our special interest-driven system.
Robert H. Kittleman
John R. Leopold
The writers are Republican members of the House of Delegates from, respectively, Howard and Montgomery counties and Anne Arundel County.
Welfare reform article assailed
With all the recent talk about fixing welfare, recreating social services and redefining what it means to be a member of our free and democratic society, you would think we would never be distracted by the misrepresentations, inaccuracies and political baggage of an article like "Welfare reform may fall to the enemy within" (Dec. 11).
The article accused America's 600,000 social workers of opposing welfare reform. That statement is simply untrue. More importantly it places social workers in a role they do not occupy.
Fewer than 10 percent of the professional social workers are employed in the departments of human services nationally. Most of these provide very specific services for children and families, like adoption, foster care, permanency planning, prevention of child abuse, elder care, etc. Very few are directly involved with provision of welfare benefits for adults.
The article projects a gross lack of understanding of the profession of social work and especially what social workers do. Approximately 60 percent of the nation's social workers provide essential services as a part of or in conjunction with the health system. In this connection, it is important to note that most of the mental health services in small towns and rural America are provided by social workers. They also are critical service providers in urban community-based organizations, including Jewish Social Services, Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, departments of corrections etc.
Jesse I. Harris
The writer is dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Maryland at Baltimore.
Christians need not fear science
In a news article you attempt to discredit the historicity of the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke (Dec. 22) and cite the opinions of a host of liberal scholars. A pity these scholars haven't kept abreast of the latest archaeological findings. Had they done so, they would no longer be asserting that "Matthew and Luke wrote their separate accounts 85 to 90 years after Jesus' birth."
Just last year a German researcher named Carsten Thieds reexamined three fragments of papyrus hidden away for a hundred years in an Oxford University library. The scraps, containing verses from Matthew 26, were donated to the library in 1901 by a returning missionary alumnus, who brought them from Egypt.
At first, scholars believed the papyrus dated from the second century. However, recent research in Greek calligraphy led Dr. Thieds to conclude that the fragments were written in a script that was no longer used after 50 A.D. But the Oxford manuscript is itself a copy, which means that the original Gospel of Matthew must have been written even earlier.
Christians have nothing to fear from solid scientific research. As historian Paul Johnson writes, "In the long term, Christian truth and historical truth must coincide."
Pub Date: 12/31/96